We played our make-up games for the ones that were rained out at Brocton Oval in Stanley Park. I always have a hard time finding Brockton Oval when I’m on my bike. It’s one of those places I’ve been to on several occasions, I know what it looks like and its general vicinity, but have no idea how to get there without taking a wrong turn and ending up at Beaver Lake.
It had been a beautiful day until about five in the evening. By the time I got to the field it was getting cold and beginning to look like rain. I actually prefer to play in overcast weather; it’s easier to see the ball and you don’t sweat as much in your synthetic jersey.
Our first game was against Team Numbers. Their pitcher was this amazing blonde girl with knee-high socks and a red baseball cap; she looked like a character out of a high school movie. She was fucking adorable. Whenever she blew a pitch she would giggle and stick out her tongue or apologize if the ball didn’t cross the plate.
My performance at bat was much better than the last games I played. The hits were lack-lustre at best but at least I was connecting with ball. I’m still have a tendency of dipping the bat when I swing. If the goal for the season is to consistently get on first base, then I’m on the right track. My biggest problem is finding the right ball to swing at. I’m getting better at not swinging at shit but I’m not connecting with the good pitches.
I was able to get to first base and then to second from one of my hits but I got tagged out at third. I was tagged out again on second running for another player after I overran the base; I couldn’t see the damn thing because it was buried in the sand. It was a stupid mistake on my part, but pretty hilarious in hindsight.
Having learned from that mistake, I dove onto second base another time and really did a number on my knee. I’ve told myself I would never slide into base since they are held into the ground with spikes, but I was so caught up in the spirit of the game I forgot all that and just went for it. It was worth it, I made it all the way home.
We took an early lead in the first game. We got five runs in the first inning and another four in the second. Early leads are always deceptive. You think you have control of the game but one bad defensive play with the bases loaded can ruin all that. We were in the double digits going into the seventh inning but Numbers had an awesome rally in the last couple of innings. We only beat them by a couple of runs.
We played the undefeated Team Celebrities in our second game. They’re a much younger team than ours with lots of heavy hitters and loaded with hot guys. I was imagining them naked for most of the game. Team Celebrities’ coach takes a lot of ribbing for scoping out the prettiest players during the sign-up and rookie camp. I can think of worse things for getting teased about.
There were at least four players on Celebrities that could hit a home run consistently. It was like the entire team was genetically engineered in some gay softball laboratory. Even the players on the bottom of their lineup had a pretty solid hit.
Going into the game, I had a feeling we weren’t going to win against Celebrities, which is the wrong attitude to have, but whatever, these thoughts go through your mind. After the first couple of innings it looked like we were going to get trounced but we managed to rally back in the last inning with two out. Unfortunately I was the one that ended the game for us. It was a good hit though, it just went directly to the pitcher.
I used a heavier bat for my last time at the plate after working with the light one these last few games. I have to admit, I preferred the heavier bat. Everyone keeps telling me I should be using a lighter bat because of my size, but I can’t feel it when I swing. I was telling my coach this after the game and he said, “Which one were you using?”
“The orange one.”
“How heavy is it?”
“I don’t know; I just like the colour.”
I might not know the weight of my bat, but my throwing arm is getting better. I was getting the ball right to the pitcher about 90% of the time but there were a few throws that went a little haywire. I’ve been throwing the ball around a with friends on the weekends which has really helped with my hand eye co-ordination.
That said, I have a little carpal tunnel in my right arm from all the pointing and clicking I do at work. Sometimes when I throw the ball my arm seizes up mid-throw is like one of those Chinese Lucky cats.
The games weren’t my best performance on the field, but at least I was “in” the game which is really what you want to be. Despite the errors I had a really good run around the bases which got the blood pumping. Softball is really making me aware of how out of shape I am. I thought I was going to die the first time I ran to first base and then Coach told me I may have to run for the next batter if she got to base. I can’t say that I didn’t hope she got out—just a little.
It started to rain during the last inning. After the game Coach herded us under a tree to unwind and talk about how ewe played. Coach was really proud of us.
“We scored more runs in our first game than the entire season,” he said. “And we didn’t even have our heavy hitters.”
We talked about listening to each other in the field and joked about the age difference between our team and Celebrities. It was time to go at the sound of the 9 o’clock gun.
Another player was riding back to the West End so I asked him if he would lead me out of the park.
“Do you want to go the simple way or the long way?”
“Simple,” I said. “I’m old and lazy,”
I should have said “Simple and with the flow of traffic” because he took me the wrong way down the road that enters the park. I thought we were going to die a couple of times and I’m a pretty confident cyclist. We almost got hit coming out of the park and were nearly doored by some asshole on Robso—although we were in the bike lane that time and I had a million neon lights on my bike like Xanadu.
I didn’t have to be at work early the next day so I met up with a couple of guys from the team for $5 beer at the Pumpjack. As I was leaving, the assistant coach said, “You played well tonight,” with one of those solemn nods you only see in softball and on a battlefield.
“I know,” I said.
“I’m serious,” he said.
“I was amazing,” I said, giving myself two snaps up.
And I was. I didn’t hit particularly well and I got out on a stupid error, but I was “in” the game. Sometimes, you just have to take what the pitcher gives you and run with it.